KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

For Many Working Low-Income Residents, Health Law’s Promise Is Still Unaffordable

Stateline examines the difficulty for many working families to buy insurance while KHN checks how efforts to enroll the uninsured are going at a California hospital. Other news coverage on health law outreach and enrollment looks at narrow networks in some plans and an effort in Connecticut to attract consumers.

Stateline: Affording The Affordable Care Act
The promise of the Affordable Care Act is right there in its title: Affordable. Yet, anti-poverty agencies across the country fear that even with the federal financial assistance available under the law, health insurance will remain unaffordable for significant numbers of low-income Americans. "For those with very low wages trying to raise kids, after paying for housing, electricity, food, transportation, and child care, asking people to pay another $50 or $100 a month, that's just out of reach," said Sireesha Manne, a staff attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (Ollove, 1/14).

The Washington Post's WonkBlog: Obamacare's Narrow Networks Are Going To Make People Furious – But They Might Control Costs
Just the name itself, a narrow network, sounds like a miserable, restrictive health plan that you would just as well avoid. But health-care experts love narrow networks, pointing out that they underpin some of the country's most successful health plans (Kliff, 1/13).

Kaiser Health News: Emergency Rooms Are Front Line For Enrolling New Obamacare Customers
Angela Felan is sitting in the emergency department waiting room at O'Connor Hospital for the second time in a week. A blue surgical mask covers her nose and mouth, and her hoodie sweatshirt is pulled snug over her head. She first came into the emergency room a few days ago with what she thought was bronchitis. The doctor prescribed an inhaler that cost her $56. She works part-time in retail and hasn't had insurance for at least a decade because she can't afford it. "And unfortunately, even not having insurance is just as expensive," she says (Varney, 1/14). 

The CT Mirror: Uninsured Connecticut: Obamacare Comes To Hartford
In their quest to help people sign up for insurance offered under the federal health law, the staff at Charter Oak Health Center have talked to more than 3,000 people. But a few stand out, like the man who was so happy to have insurance -- for $49 a month -- he was shouting on the way out. Or the young man with bad eyes who couldn't afford glasses but would, as of Jan. 1, qualify for Medicaid. "He can get those much-needed glasses, and he was so freaking happy," said Jesse Grant, the health center's outreach enrollment case manager and self-appointed promoter of Obamacare to just about anyone who will listen (Becker, 1/14).

Meanwhile, a new study assesses efforts to curb enrollment in some states.

USA Today: Study: Navigator Laws Limit Health Exchange Outreach
States that have not expanded Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act and also passed laws limiting the ability of health care "navigators" to advise customers have compromised their residents' ability to gain access to health care, a new study released Tuesday shows (Kennedy, 1/14).

NBC News: State Efforts To Block Obamacare Are Working, Study Finds
States whose governments are hostile to Obamacare are also hindering efforts to get people signed up for health insurance, according to a study released Tuesday. Laws restricting outreach and enrollment efforts have handicapped community health centers that are a key component of plans to get health insurance to millions of Americans who lack it, researchers at George Washington University found. "This is the first study to attempt to measure the impact of restrictive state policies," said Sara Rosenbaum, who led the team at GW’s Department of Health Policy that did the study. "The navigator laws are having a real effect" (Fox, 1/14).

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